While in transit from the airport to Coron town, we instantly figured that we were in a place different from all other parts of the Philippines we have visited. Looking around through windows of the van we were riding, I saw that the surroundings emitted an aura which indicated that we were definitely going to have a phenomenal experience.
Arriving late in the afternoon, Coron officially welcomed us with a wonderful ocean sunset view from our Sea Dive Beach Resort room.
(Sunset view from Sea Dive Beach Resort room)
It was heartwarming that Coron obliged in giving us the soothing that we craved for before we “officially” toured the island. Sensing our frustration and tiredness after our 6 hour delayed Air Philippines flight; Maquinit Hot Springs massaged and washed away any vexation we were harboring. It was as if Coron used it hands to comfort us.
Drinking ice cold beer while basking in the hot spring steam gave an odd yet pleasant body experience. The contrast of cold beer and hot spring water fighting for the dominance of our body’s temperature ironically provided peace and relaxation.
(Camilla can’t wait to dip and relax in Busuanga Maquinit Hot Spring)
We can attest that Coron had prepped us well for our 4 day adventure, as we felt energized upon waking up the following morning.
After eating a bountiful breakfast enough to fuel us for the whole day, we proceed on touring Coron’s Island lakes.
Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, Twin Lagoon and Twin Peaks are known to the Tagbanua [resident tribe] as the holy lakes.
It isn’t hard to fathom that this is where the divine resided.
As soon as we walked the path leading to the lakes we instantly felt an eerie atmosphere.
We felt the lakes sanctity even more while swimming in the lakes. Being surrounded by towering rock formations, we instantly questioned how such a place as perfect as Barracuda Lake came into existence?
How did these places form? It is hard to believe that nature alone formed Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake and Twin lagoon unassisted. Surely it is impossible that nature purely used coincidence as a tool to create these limestone masterpieces when cracks and slices are exquisitely placed.
(The gateway to paradise)
(The artist’s canvass)
(Yes, in Coron you’ll have your own private lake to swim in peacefully.)
Surely only an entity beyond human cognition, with a precise intention and vision could have created Coron’s holy lakes.
The water surface acted as a gateway to the divine’s kingdom. Diving deep into the lakes, we found ourselves instantly transported to a different frontier. The massive rock formations seen underwater served as fortresses overwhelming anyone who dares to come close.
(Yes, that’s me with a pink snorkel. haha)
(Underwater fortress wall)
(Sharp traps for intruders)
We felt the temperature change strangely from cold and hot while at different depths while diving. Also while underwater, it was often that an odd blurry substance would suddenly be briefly visible in front of our goggles.
Although these phenomena can be explained by cold fresh water and warm sea water mixing together in the lake to form brackish water, it wasn’t hard to imagine that these are the divine spirits who reside in the water kingdom. The water appeared to be empty, but I guess we were helpless to stop our imagination getting the better of us.
Being underwater in these lakes was certainly one of the few places on earth where we felt and saw God [divine] upclose, touching us as we felt his warmth from time to time.
(Sabrina with her godly aura from below)
Our second day was focused on exploring Coron’s marine life. We visited both natural coral reefs and artificial reefs which mainly were World War 2 Japanese ships blown by American bombers to the bottom of the sea.
These wrecks were Lusong Gun Boat, East Tangat Gun Boat and Skeleton Wreck.
In the past these boats served as the sanctuary for those who brought death. Today these have turned into the sanctuary of the living.
It’s amazing to realize how the living world quickly forgets and forgives. The American bombing turned these ships into sunken cemeteries. But only after 60 years these sunken ships do not have any trace of hatred they once bore. Not even a drip of human blood can be found in these seas anymore.
(Lusong Gun Boat Wreck)
(Big Branch Table Coral growing on East Tangat Gun Boat Wreck)
(Skeleton Boat Wreck)
Probably it wasn’t that bad for the Japanese to die in Coron. The richness in marine life shows that the dead are making the most out of the opportunity provided to them by Coron, atoning for their mistake of going to war.
After all, their last resting place is paradise. It must be pleasurable for the dead to eternally cultivate the corals and take care of the endangered marine ecosystem, enriching life rather than taking one.
Given that the artificial reef was amazing, it was no surprise that the natural reefs of Sangat Coral Garden and 7 islands marine sanctuary (Siete Pecados) were far more amazing.
(Pulsating Xenia Coral in Seven Island Marine Sanctuary)
We decided to bring bread to attract fishes to come near us. But we were clueless that this would lead to us getting mugged by an overwhelming number of fish. The reefs were so rich with life that the instance the bread came to view, the fishes rushed towards us with reckless abandon.
The fishes fought so hard for a share of bread that these fishes ended up accidentally biting our hands.
The highlight marine life exploration day was our encounter with adult pawikans (hawksbill sea turtles) in Sangat Coral Garden. We first noticed a pawikan swimming beneath us feeding on the rich coral reef. When it rested on a coral platform 30 feet below us, we took turns diving towards it. Surprisingly the animal indulged us to take pictures and swim close by to appreciate its beauty. While this was all happening another pawikan, probably jealous of the attention her partner was getting, swam to approach us.
(Hawksbill Sea Turtle or Pawikan feeding on top of the corals)
To celebrate what we saw, we decided to have a drink during the night on Hell Diver’s Bar. But rather than having a celebration we ended up drinking to console ourselves from being defeated countless of times by Olaf. This German physical education teacher dominated the game of foosball, even with us going in pairs against him. Surely we shouldn’t have dared to challenge him, given that we observed everyone was losing against him.
(Two on one? Olaf still kicking our asses)
Our final day of activities focused on lollygagging around Coron’s beautiful beaches. After an active two days of touring we wanted to relax and just sit idle. We decided to visit Malcapuya and Banana Islands because the local boatmen only had good things to say about the islands.
Going to the islands took the whole morning but our wait was instantly rewarded once we arrived.
(Malcapuya Island white sand beach with a spectacular view)
Malcapuya Island certainly was one of the best beaches I have seen in my life. Writing definitely has its limitations in describing the beauty of Malcapuya beach. It is in this island that the colors of nature are really highlighted by the sun. White sand clear of any impurities and a whole unimpeded view of the ocean is all I can write to describe it.
Wanting to see Malcapuya Island’s surroundings, we “borrowed” a boat [actually boatnapped] parked in the beach. We curiously paddled over to a flag, barely visible from the beach, which amazingly was the site of corals.
(“Borrowing” the boat)
After we returned the boat we borrowed, we moved on to Banana Island, which provided us the relaxation we were craving for.
Banana Island gave a unique blend of green and ocean scenery; grass and other plants grew on white sand. Such view coupled with the multiple available hammocks on the island surely enabled us to fully absorb and dwell on our experience.
(Dwelling on our Coron experience)
On the way back to Coron town, the ocean afforded us the chance to be in the middle of the setting sun and the rising full moon.
I figured that I am lucky to be in the middle of my life, still far away from the dusk of my life. Still having the opportunity to experience more adventures so in the end I will have no regrets.
(Full moon over Coron Island’s Lake)
Credit to Dan Fernandez for capturing our underwater moments.
(Nicco Lampa visited Coron, Philippines on August 8, 2011 until August 13, 2011)